Štefánik, Prague

The Štefánik Observatory is standing in the very heart of Prague, in Petřín's park at the Hunger Wall.

The observatory was opened on June 24th, 1928. In the middle of the 70s, a full-scale reconstruction gave the building its current appearance and it was reopened for the public in 1976. Since 1979, the Štefánik observatory has been a part of the Observatory and Planetarium of Prague. The observatory was named after Milan Ratislav Štefánik, who born in 1880 in Kosaras, Hungarian Kingdom. He was a soldier, a general of the French army, a military pilot, a diplomat and the co-founder of the Czechoslovakian state. Štefánik studied astronomy at Prague's Charles University. In 1904, he went to Paris to find a job in astronomy. Initially, he had no money and no command of French, but was nevertheless able to obtain a job at the famous Observatoire de Paris-Meudon, whose director, Pierre Janssen (one of the co-founders of astrophysics), saw Štefánik’s talent. Štefánik owed to Janssen and Camille Flammarion his social, political and scientific career. The observatory was the most important centre for astronomy at this time which meant a huge prestige in his job. He participated in many expeditions to solar eclipses all around the world, built an observatory in Tahiti. He died in an air crash in 1919.

A small gilt token - that can be bought at the Observatory's shop - shows the building of the observatory with its three domes on its obverse. Legend above: "ŠTEFÁNIKOVA HVĚZDÁRNA", i. e. Štefánik Observatory. Below: "Hvězdárna a planetárium hl. m. Prahy", i. e. observatory and planetarium in Prague.

Stefanik 1 reverseStefanik 1 obverse

The reverse shows the surface of the side of the Moon facing us in enormous detail.